Oscars win for Victoria researcher
27 Feb 2017 - 09:33:03 in AchievementAdjunct Associate Professor John Lewis of Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science has won a Science and Technical Award from the Academy® of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in a pre-Oscars ceremony recognising technical achievement in filmmaking. John, alongside Weta Digital colleagues Luca Fascione and Iain Matthews, was recognised for the development of the software ‘Facets’. Facets enables animators to bring live performance facial expressions to animated characters. The trio designed, engineered and developed the software at Weta Digital for the making of the movie Avatar. It has since been used in many films including The Adventures of Tintin, The Hobbit movies, The BFG and The Planet of the Apes series. "Avatar introduced the practice of capturing the actor's facial motion at the same time as the body, by using a head-mounted camera and computer vision techniques," says John. “The actor's motion is then solved into muscle motions, and these muscle motions are replayed on the animated character. “The system is also engineered to allow artists to easily adjust the animation if needed—something that is not possible with many motion capture approaches.” 18 scientific and technical achievements were recognised at the ceremony in Beverly Hills. This is John Lewis's second Academy® Award. He was previously awarded for pose space deformation, a technique for flexibly simulating the skin shape of a moving character. The technique has become widely used in movies and games. Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science offers degrees in collaboration with Victoria’s School of Design, uniting design, computation and mathematics. The University recently announced the establishment of a new state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Miramar’s film sector, in collaboration with Weta Digital and Miramar Creative Ltd. The Centre will initially be the base for two of Victoria’s Master’s programmes—the Master of Design Technology and the Master of Fine Arts (Creative Practice).